SCHMIDT: Putting the smack down on sports


If you spent last Saturday watching gorilla-sized men turn each other’s faces into hamburger meat, you probably don’t need to read any of this. You are a smart bunch and have already come to the dark side. But if you’re a rubber-armed girly-man who has yet to experience the bone crushing thrills of mixed martial arts, you may want to step into the Octagon with me for the next 600 words.

MMA is not what you think it is. There are some nasty rumors being circulated by bowtie wearing mama’s boys who haven’t been in a fight since the third grade, and none of them are true. Contrary to popular belief, MMA is not a human version of cockfighting. It’s not a fixed sport operated by shady gambling rings or the mob. And no, MMA is not inhumane and does not violate any kind of human rights, federal laws or the Constitution.

In fact, I’m pretty sure “the right to put a whooping on a fool” is one of the first 10 Amendments.

What MMA actually is might come as a surprise. I tried to contact a handful of magazines to set up interviews for this column and none of them responded, which basically told me one thing: People in this business like to talk with their fists and not their mouths.

The world of MMA is a rock ’em sock ’em kind of place. It’s fueled by testosterone and ruled by men who have an abundance of muscles and a depravity of brain cells. Ironically, the remaining number of brain cells these fighters have — and in most cases you can count them on one hand — play a large part in their success, because MMA also happens to be a thinking man’s game. It’s like chess, only the playing pieces are large, hairy and dressed in tight spandex.

You’re probably wondering what the big deal is, right? You see, besides being wildly entertaining and a great reason to go to Hooters, MMA happens to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

If you watched that fight last Saturday you would already know this. Airing at 9 p.m. on CBS — the same channel that airs The Price is Right and 60 Minutes, a hilarious happenstance — was the broadcast of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers. The main event reached about 5.46 million viewers and drew impressive numbers from the ever important young adult and male demographics.

And then there’s the matter of Fedor. Be honest, you’ve never heard of the guy, which is sad because he’s unquestionably one of the most important figures in sports today. He is the savior of MMA. Fedor is commonly referred to as “The Baddest Man on the Planet,” capitalized because that’s the kind of title that merits capitalizing. He’s a big, mean, Russian heavyweight with a professional record of 31-1.

Scientists are 90 percent sure he’s a cyborg from the future sent here to destroy democracy. I’m 100 percent sure he’s unbeatable.

With the arrival of Fedor on American soil come huge expectations for the sport of MMA. He has already displayed the kind of drawing power that can put something as brutal as MMA on prime time cable, and his popularity will only grow now that college students have gotten their first taste of him.

This could be a pivotal moment in sports history. MMA is a new and unique kind of sport that has been knocking on the door of mainstream success for several years now. With Fedor leading the charge and CBS already willing to put the sport front and center, it may be only a matter of time before MMA joins the pantheon of top-tier sports.

My guess is that MMA — and Fedor — will take over the sporting world one uppercut at a time.